The Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ), or the sense of beauty that comes from the awareness of the transience of all things, is most often exemplified by the beautiful but short-lived cherry blossom season. However, while I was going through our garden looking for inspiration recently, it struck me that these gorgeous fire-like day lily blooms are another flower that is perfectly suited the concept, having as short and vivid a lifespan as they do.
I wanted to balance the modern, sharp, nearly abstract shapes of the lilies with something much softer and more delicate, and the gentle sweeping lines of our grapevine seemed like the perfect contrast. I then chose a very organic and vintage-feeling container and paired it in turn with a clean-lined and almost harsh pedestal. I aimed to create an arrangement that seemed as timeless as it was fleeting, things with a sense of age framed against things that have existed only for a moment. I love how they come together to form both visual and emotional balance, something I am working on as I continue my journey into ikebana.
I know, I know, I said the last outfit I posted would be around for a while. Work continues apace on updating and redoing my visual catalogue, and when I took out this Taisho-era beauty I love so much, I realised I’d never coordinated her with this vintage orange hakata obi and that seemed like a crime. They feel like they were made for each other. But then again, I think hakata goes with everything. When I first got it, I paired it with an orange obi and while I loved the colour contrast, the obi was a metallic, Showa-era blingfest that felt incongruous with the soft vintage feel of the kimono. Springy green accessories were the perfect finishing touch, including a brand new obiage I’ve never used before.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that for whatever reason I’ve always had bad luck with tying obi in tsunodashi musubi but I was really in the groove after putting this outfit together and I figured I’d give it another shot. I’m really glad I did, because it worked out perfectly. The ohashori is quite puffy-looking, which is unfortunate, but sometimes it’s inevitable due to the shape of the mannequin.
Now this is definitely an outfit I’m happy to leave on the mannequin until I’m finished everything else I have in the works.
One of the great things about iromuji is how they can allow you to really focus attention on something other than the kimono itself. They make a great neutral canvas for a really bright or busy obi. I decided for this week’s entry that I’d do a really high-contrast coordination with a lot of “punch” to it, and this obi was the perfect place to start. It’s a very special obi; I received it anonymously from some lovely person online. I suspect their intent was to have me coordinate it with my Shah Mosque houmongi, but in the end the styles and colours were too different and I could never get them to work together. This kimono, however, is ideal. It’s a similar background colour to the houmongi and the orange-red of the obi really pops against it, but it doesn’t compete with the pattern on the obi itself. It’s a wonderfully neutral foil for the gorgeous obi, and the colours couldn’t work better together if they’d been made to go together. I’d initially thought of using a third bright colour (yellow or pink) for the obiage and obijime but then I remembered these pieces, and everything just clicked.
We’ve also got a special guest photobomber today! Those of you who are longtime readers have probably seen Vinnie before. He usually avoids the mannequin but today he decided he wanted to be the star of the show.
I hope you’re enjoying seeing these posts as much as I’m enjoying doing them! We’ve got one left, and then it’s time to focus on newer things.
One Kimono Four Ways
Until now, the outfits in this feature have been more thematic than actually costumey. Today’s coordination is a little bit different. This one is lifted straight out of the pages of one of my favourite current comic books, Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue deConnick. Without spoiling too much, the basic premise is that women who are deemed “non-compliant” are sent to an essentially lawless prison colony in space. Being deemed non-compliant can be as simple as being too loud, too big, too “unappealing” to men. It’s an incredibly interesting examination of gender and society. I would absolutely be deemed non-compliant and I revel in that.
There is one scene where one of the characters, in hologram form, plays the violin for her father. Typically, the inmates wear orange jumpsuits emblazoned with the NC logo, but in this scene she’s wearing a kimono with an NC obi. Due to the stylistic way she’s represented as a hologram everything is sort of pink and washed out, but I am going by the assumption that the kimono is the same colour as the jumpsuits. As soon as I saw this panel, I knew at some point I was going to try to reproduce the outfit.
I had big plans for this costume. Unfortunately, life has a tendency to get in the way. Originally I was going to buy an orange iromuji and paint the obi. However, it’s nearly impossible to find an iromuji in prison-jumpsuit orange. Especially a cheap one, since I know I’d never wear something this colour aside from in this costume. As for the obi, I cut and sewed this inexpensive white obi into a tsuke to make it easier to work with, and I’d intended to stencil the Non-Compliant pattern onto it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any fabric paint that didn’t bleed all over and turn into a blurry grey mess. I fought with the whole thing for nearly two weeks – hence the lateness of this entry – and eventually figured I could put my image editing skills to use and at least make a composite of the outfit! Eventually I will make the obi and possibly wear it to a convention at some point in the future, but for now I think this works out quite well!
I know I’d initially said I had five outfits planned, but between my health being not great lately and this one being delayed, it’s going to be the final entry. I hope you enjoyed this little month-long venture into ways to wear kimono for Halloween!
Spookitsuke October 2016
It’s been a long week! I was called in to work for two extra days, and as much as I love my job everyone has a limit before the start getting a bit crabby, right? Thankfully today I was able to stay home and work on some things that didn’t require leaving the house, so when time came to take a little break I decided to use that time productively and work with an obi I got recently and had no idea what to do with.
Naomi found this obi on Yahoo Japan literally years ago, and it had been sitting in a box ever since, following her around as she moved. She finally found the time to mail it to me and man, was it ever worth the wait. I love crustacean motifs, and this obi is no exception. It’s a gorgeous old chuuya obi with crabs and lobsters on the purple side. The other side is more “normal”, featuring a design of flowers and drums on solid black. It’s a nice bonus, to be certain, but this obi really is all about the pinchy sea creatures! It’s in rough shape, and the design placement is very odd, which makes it hard to tie. Eventually I’m going to turn it into a reversible tsuke-obi but until then I figured I could find a way to make it work on the mannequin.
The kimono is one of the first casual-style kimono I ever purchased and to this day it remains one of my favourites it work with. It’s a thick, woven silk which makes it slightly rough and a dream to tie because it grips and stays where you put it. The pattern has always reminded me of fishing nets, so it seemed like a match made in crustacean heaven! I decided to run with orange accessories to emphasize the pattern, and realised afterwards that the shibori obiage is also vaguely reminiscent of fish roe, which was an accident but works perfectly. Unfortunately, I now have the Big Bag of Crabs song from Weebl’s Stuff stuck in my head. Things could be worse, I suppose!